Mid-Year Performance Review Meetings

As the year’s half-way mark passes, many companies with formal performance evaluation processes will be launching or in the midst of completing mid-year performance reviews and meetings. Even if your company does not conduct formal mid-year reviews, we encourage managers to take it upon themselves to establish a set time when they can devote their attention to employees in order to recharge and regroup for the second half of the year.


The mid-year review meeting is an excellent opportunity to formally sit down with employees and:

  • review goals and accomplishments to ensure everything is on track;
  • check-in on the general status of employees and how they are doing in their roles;
  • learn from employees on what is/isn’t working and what support or resources they need to deliver on expectations;
  • provide feedback on achievements and coaching for development;
  • communicate and plan for any changes in the company, team, roles or objectives that will affect the second half of the year.

But HOW managers approach mid-year review meetings can make or break everything. Just going through the motions and ‘winging it’ is not enough to ensure employees are on track and receiving the proper feedback and support they need to succeed.

4 Steps to Rocking the Mid-Year Performance Review Meeting: Book, Prepare, Meet & Follow Up.

1.      Book:

 Bad managers: never book mid-year meetings themselves – they wait for HR or the employee to ask or skips them altogether.

Most managers: book meetings a few days in advance and provide little information about the meeting goals.

Great managers: are consistent with their check-ins and formal mid-year meetings and provide employees with meeting objectives and ample time to prepare.

How to rock this step:

  • Book the mid-year review meeting at least a week in advance with a formal meeting invitation. The employee should understand that this is more formal than a water-cooler check-in or weekly touch-point.
  • Communicate the purpose of the meeting so the employee understands the objectives of the meeting and can prepare.
  • If the employee is being asked to self-assess prior to the meeting, ensure they have access to do so and ample time.
  • Book a quiet room with plenty of cushion in your calendar so the employee knows they will be getting your undivided attention. We often suggest that managers having the meeting somewhere other than your office or where you would typically meet.

2.      Prepare:

 Bad managers: step into a meeting and ‘wing-it’.

Most managers: take 15-20 minutes before the meeting to skim goals and make mental notes.

Great managers: understand the importance of showing the employee that they are as invested in their success as they are. Great managers start preparing a week in advance by collecting peer input, gathering all notes, doing a detailed review of job goals and responsibilities, and planning discussion points to structure the meeting in a positive yet constructive manner.

What great managers do to prepare before a mid-year review meeting:

  • Review the employee’s performance goals and job responsibilities and are prepared to ask questions to spark discussion about progress and what is needed from the employee to deliver on these expectations.
  • Review any comments or status ratings the employee has provided in the formal mid-year review form (if applicable).
  • Examine any performance notes, feedback, or check-in meeting logs to identify trends. Be prepared to provide positive input on milestones reached and observations taken, as well as constructive coaching tips on ways to grow and improve.
  • If you are using 360 peer feedback, ensure any relevant parties have had a chance to submit their input and you have taken the time to review and identify any trends, strengths, and opportunities that should be communicated to the employee.
  • Make a preliminary determination of the extent the employee is performing or achieving/not achieving expectations and what course of action will be taken to either maintain momentum or to improve the situation.
  • Determine any opportunities for development or training, when it should be pursued, and how this would affect the employee’s short and long-term schedule.
  • Plan to discuss any new company or departmental/team changes that might affect the employee’s performance goals and plans.
  • Take a moment to self-reflect and determine if there are any behaviours or methods that might be facilitating or impeding the employee’s progress.
  • Create a rough outline of the meeting talking points and set goals for the discussion items you would like to get through. Plan for employee silence and what you might say to keep the conversation moving.

3.   Meet

Bad managers: spend the meeting doing most of the talking or discussing items unrelated to the employee or their role. Use the meeting as an opportunity to ‘surprise’ the employee with points on what they could be doing better.

Most managers: spend the meeting doing most of the talking, providing good feedback and/or constructive criticism however losing the direction of the meeting to the point that key discussion points are missed or rushed.

Great managers: are prepared to solicit employee input, keep an eye on the time, and allow for a good mixture of acknowledgement and coaching. Great managers understand that employees should leave the meeting armed with what they need to deliver on expectations while also feeling refreshed and motivated to face the next 6 months.

Tips for executing a great mid-year review meeting:

  • Ensure you meet somewhere quiet, with no distractions, and any phones or devices are turned off. The employee should know they have your undivided attention.
  • Quickly re-iterate the purpose of the meeting and your expected agenda so the employee is reminded of what will be discussed.
  • Ask the employee to start the conversation with a recap of the last 6 months. Their comments will be very telling and should steer the rest of the discussion.
  • If you have prepared a plan, great! Follow your talking points and goals for:
    • confirming any key points from self-assessment comments (if applicable)
    • acknowledging any positive observations or behaviours, using examples or feedback received from others
    • discussing causes and solutions for any issues in performance or delivery and ask the employee if they understand expectations and what is needed for them to improve
    • reviewing the progress of goals and development items
    • communicating any company, departmental or team changes that might impact their roles or objectives.
    • adding or editing any new goals or development items
    • discussing any career-related goals and progress
  • Keep employees talking by using leading statements like ‘tell me more…’ (read a great post here for ways to keep the conversation going)
  • Outline any follow-up activities needed after the meeting and set time and work parameters around them if possible so the employee knows what will happen.
  • Remind the employee that you are available outside any formal meeting to discuss progress at any time.

4.   Follow Up

Bad managers: never follow up after the meeting or deliver on promises made.

Most managers: do not follow up after the meeting and deliver on promises if and when they can.

Great managers: understand that employees are waiting for confirmation of items discussed and follow up promptly after the meeting.

Here’s how great managers communicate after the mid-year review meeting:

  • Send an email after the mid-year review meeting to outline any key points, items to confirm (including dates on when the employee can expect to hear) and an outline of any promises or changes and when they will take effect.
  • Deliver on any promises made or communicate the status to the employee.
  • Record any key meeting notes or action-items for easy recall. (If your company is using an automated performance management system, these items would be delivered to the employee automatically after the manager closes the mid-year review meeting.)
  • Schedule any other follow up discussions needed.

Overall, the formal mid-year review meeting is a great time to give employees your full attention, discuss any ups and downs and plan for what’s next. Mid-year meetings should not replace ongoing feedback and informal check-ins, but they are a great way to formally re-group so employees are equipped with the motivation and support needed to succeed.

Want help rocking mid-year review meetings?

Explore emPerform’s easy & complete performance management software with tools like journaling, feedback, task alerts, goal tracking, and 100% automated meeting reminders.

Ready to make a change?

Contact us to see how we can help you transform performance management to better align, develop, engage & retain a world-class workforce.


Mid-Year Evaluation Steps: Duke Human Resources. https://hr.duke.edu/managers/performance-management/duhs/support-resources/mid-year-evaluation-steps

 Inc.com How to Make the Most of Mid-Year Reviews By: Tanya Hall https://www.inc.com/tanya-hall/how-to-make-the-most-of-mid-year-reviews.html

 Forbes.com It’s Performance Evaluation Time: Three Steps for Preparing Your Mid-Year Review By: Caroline Ceniza-Levine  https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecenizalevine/2015/05/11/its-performance-evaluation-time-three-steps-for-preparing-your-mid-year-review/#6fb4ed8d676b